If you occasionally have a hard time falling asleep—or staying asleep—you may be thinking about taking melatonin, a 100% drug-free sleep aid.† We all know that you should always try your best to practice good sleep habits, but what if you’ve tried it all and nothing seems to work? You might consider a melatonin supplement. Unlike traditional “sleeping pills,” melatonin can usually be found in the dietary supplements aisle at U.S. stores. But you may have a lot of questions about melatonin, its safety, who can take it, and how much is safe to take. Our expert is here to set the facts straight and answer all your frequently asked questions about melatonin.
Can you take melatonin every night?
For most individuals, melatonin is safe to take occasionally for 2-3 months. If your sleep issues are ongoing, we recommend talking to your healthcare practitioner.
The safe and efficacious amount of melatonin that can be taken ranges in doses of 0.3 mg –10 mg per day, but it really depends on your age and specific sleep issue. Typically, it’s best to start with a low dose and increase it (as needed) to find what works best for you.
Research shows that short term use of melatonin at low doses may be effective and well tolerated for children, but it is best to speak to your child’s pediatrician first before giving your child melatonin.
Melatonin plays a key role in regulating the body’s sleep/wake cycle, with the brain producing more as it gets dark (at night) and less as it gets light (in the morning). While melatonin doesn’t make you go to sleep, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep, helping you relax and transition to slumber.†
Does melatonin cause weight gain or help with weight loss?
Melatonin should not directly affect your weight. However, if you are sleeping better, you may have more energy to exercise the next day, which can help contribute to weight control. Emerging research studies also show relationships between short sleep duration and higher total energy intake and lower quality diet, highlighting the importance of sleep and body weight regulation.
Is melatonin good for anxiety?
While sleep is important for mood regulation, we do not recommend use of melatonin for treatment of anxiety. If you are experiencing anxiety, we recommend speaking to your healthcare provider.
Does melatonin make it hard to wake up?
Melatonin needs vary and we recommend starting with a low dose to find the right dose for you. If you find it hard to wake up after the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, we recommend using a lower dose.
How long does melatonin last?
While rates of melatonin metabolism can vary in different people, our melatonin products are designed to support the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep.
What happens if you take melatonin and stay awake?
Although taking Melatonin can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, you may still find that you have difficulty sleeping. Practicing healthy sleep habits, such as not drinking alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime, keeping your bedroom cool and quiet, having a consistent sleep schedule, not exposing yourself to blue light (such as what is given off from your computer, mobile phone or other device) and adding stress management techniques such as yoga or deep breathing may also help. In addition if you find yourself unable to sleep for over 20 minutes while in bed, try getting out of bed for a short time and do something relaxing, in low light, to get your mind off of sleep before going back to bed. If your sleep issues continue, we recommend speaking with your healthcare practitioner.
Melatonin is sold as a dietary supplement, it is 100% drug free and you do not need a prescription to purchase melatonin.
How do I quit taking melatonin?
Melatonin is 100% drug free and non-addictive. If you want to stop taking melatonin simply discontinue use.
Why does melatonin not work for me?
If you have tried melatonin and it does not work for you, you might want to consider taking a higher dose (note: doses can range from 0.3 mg - 10 mg per night) or an extended release melatonin supplement. Make sure you are practicing healthy sleep habits, such as not drinking alcohol or caffeine (coffee, teas, sodas, etc.) close to bedtime, keeping your bedroom cool and quiet, not exposing yourself to blue light from your electronics (computer, mobile phone, television or other device) and stress management techniques such as yoga or deep breathing. If your sleep issues continue, we recommend speaking with your healthcare provider.
Dreams occur during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. When you’re sleep deprived and are getting less than optimal periods of REM sleep, you’ll experience a longer-than-usual period of REM sleep when allowed to get sufficient sleep – a phenomenon known as REM rebound. Longer periods of REM sleep following sleep deprivation can result in vivid dreams and are totally normal.
Ongoing research is exploring the health benefits of melatonin outside of sleep, but cannot be recommended at this time.
Does melatonin weaken your immune system?
Melatonin should not weaken your immune system. On the contrary, good quality sleep is important for a healthy immune system and melatonin can help you get the sleep you need. One study has shown that insufficient sleep in the week before a flu shot can lead to reduced production of antibody response, highlighting the importance of sleep for a healthy immune system.
Is melatonin bad for autoimmune disorders like lupus?
If you have a medical condition, we recommend that you speak to your healthcare practitioner before starting a new dietary supplement, including melatonin.
Does melatonin cause hair loss?
Melatonin is not known to cause hair loss.
Does melatonin make you wake up in the middle of the night?
Taking Melatonin will not directly cause you to wake you up in the middle of the night. However, if you are waking up in the middle of the night, in addition to practicing good sleep hygiene, you might want to try a time-released melatonin, such as Nature Made Extended Release Melatonin.
Is melatonin safer than other sleep aid options or sleeping pills?
Melatonin is naturally produced in your body at night. Melatonin supplements are 100% drug-free and have a strong safety profile with few side effects. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about the best sleep aid for you.
Does melatonin have any side effects?
Mild side effects may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vivid dreams, and lack of appetite. Increased heart rate is another reported side effect; if you experience this or other persistent side effects, discontinue use and consult with your healthcare provider.
This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information if you think taking a melatonin supplement might be a good option for you.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Senior Manager, Medical and Scientific Communications
Melissa is a Registered Dietitian and provides leadership to Pharmavite’s Medical and Scientific Education team. She has over 20 years of experience educating consumers, healthcare professionals, retailers and employees about nutrition, dietary supplements, and overall wellness. Prior to joining the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Melissa launched and managed Pharmavite’s Consumer Affairs department and worked as a clinical dietitian throughout Southern California. Melissa received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, and completed her dietetic internship at Veteran’s Hospital in East Orange New Jersey.